Qinetiq, the company behind the recent 1901 Census website debacle, is going up for sale after the Government decided against a full stock market flotation.
In a written reply to a parliamentary question on Wednesday, defence minister Dr Lewis Mooney said the Government was seeking a "strategic partner" to buy a significant stake in the company.
Qinetiq was formed last July as a spinoff from the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) with the intention of floating it as an indepdendent company.
"Although flotation has always been our preferred route, as we have consistently stated," Mooney said, "the priority is to achieve a successful move into the private sector with a transaction that clearly achieves best value for the taxpayer."
The Ministry of Defence [MoD] refused to give details of the proposed partnership.
It said in a statement: "Initial discussions with potential investors will now begin and, to maximise value, will be conducted on a confidential basis. MoD will therefore not be releasing detailed information regarding the bidders or their proposals until much later in the competitive process."
Qinetiq designed and launched the 1901 Census website last January. Within days, the site was overwhelmed with requests from around the world and has been closed down ever since.
A Qinetiq spokesman said the company is still working on making the site robust enough to come back on line "in the next couple of weeks".
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